From the 13th to 16th centuries Kutná Hora competed with Prague economically, culturally and politically. Since 1995 the city center has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Kutná Hora town began in 1142 with the settlement of the first Cistercian monastery in Bohemia, Sedlec Monastery, brought from the Imperial immediate Cistercian Waldsassen Abbey. By 1260 German miners began to mine for silver in the mountain region, which they named Kuttenberg, and which was part of the monastery property. Under Abbot Heidenreich the territory greatly advanced due to the silver mines which gained importance during the economic boom of the 13th century.
In 1300 King Wenceslaus II of Bohemia issued the new royal mining code Ius regale montanorum. This was a legal document that specified all administrative as well as technical terms and conditions necessary for the operation of mines. The city developed with great rapidity, and at the outbreak of the Hussite Wars in 1419 was the second most important city in Bohemia, after Prague, having become the favourite residence of several Bohemian kings. It was here that, on January 18, 1409, Wenceslaus IV signed the famous Decree of Kutná Hora, by which the Czech university nation was given three votes in the elections to the faculty of Prague University as against one for the three other nations.
In 1420 Emperor Sigismund made the city the base for his unsuccessful attack on the Taborites during the Hussite Wars, leading to the Battle of Kutná Hora. The city was taken by Jan Žižka, and after a temporary reconciliation of the warring parties was burned by the imperial troops in 1422, to prevent its falling again into the hands of the Taborites. Žižka nonetheless took the place, and under Bohemian auspices it awoke to a new period of prosperity.
Along with the rest of Bohemia, Kutná Hora passed to the Habsburg Monarchy of Austria in 1526. In 1546 the richest mine was hopelessly flooded; in the insurrection of Bohemia against Ferdinand I the city lost all its privileges; repeated visitations of the plague and the horrors of the Thirty Years' War completed its ruin. Half-hearted attempts after the peace to repair the ruined mines failed; the town became impoverished, and in 1770 was devastated by fire. The mines were abandoned at the end of the 18th century.
The city became part of Czechoslovakia after World War I and the collapse of Austria-Hungary. Kutná Hora was incorporated into the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia by Nazi Germany in the period 1939–1945, but was restored to Czechoslovakia after World War II. The city became part of the Czech Republic in 1993 during the dissolution of Czechoslovakia.
Among the most important buildings in the area are the Gothic, five-naved St. Barbara's Church, begun in 1388, and the Italian Court, formerly a royal residence and mint, which was built at the end of the 13th century. The Gothic Stone Haus, which since 1902 has served as a museum, contains one of the richest archives in the country. The Gothic St. James's Church, with its 86-metre tower, is another prominent building. Sedlec is the site of the Gothic Cathedral of Our Lady and the famous Ossuary.References:
The city walls of Avila were built in the 11th century to protect the citizens from the Moors. They have been well maintained throughout the centuries and are now a major tourist attraction as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors can walk around about half of the length of the walls.
The layout of the city is an even quadrilateral with a perimeter of 2,516 m. Its walls, which consist in part of stones already used in earlier constructions, have an average thickness of 3 m. Access to the city is afforded by nine gates of different periods; twin 20 m high towers, linked by a semi-circular arch, flank the oldest ones, Puerta de San Vicente and Puerta del Alcázar.